Home / General / Montana Region 7 Deer Populations Cut In Half

Montana Region 7 Deer Populations Cut In Half

Photo courtesy of Joetography

The Montana deer population survey numbers for 2022 were published late last year and show that mule deer numbers are down, way down! There are a lot of factors to blame, starting with the largest culprit that has been proven by research in many Western states and that is drought. Research shows deer (does) that go into winter in poor shape, with minimal body fat in dry years, have much lower fawn health and birth rates in the spring of the next year. 2020-2022 were very dry years in the eastern half of the state and forage in the fall of 2021 was especially poor when I hunted there. Trophy quality also seemed to be hurt by the drought. In 2022 population counts showed 58,000 mule deer in Region 7 which is down from 114,000 in 2020; that’s a 52% decrease!

Disease is also another factor and sure doesn’t help the situation; EHD, Blue Tongue, and CWD. All of these diseases have affected the eastern half of the state the last few years. CWD has been the one in the spotlight recently but there’s no proof that CWD has wiped out entire herds of deer in the West unless you consider how it has impacted state’s like Montana’s deer management policies. 

Overhunting could also be a factor. Montana gained a lot of residents the last two years and if you don’t know, Montana is an opportunity state and is not managed for trophies. It’s managed for opportunity, hence the many general tag areas. Basically Montana is a, “If it’s brown, it’s down” kind of state and all of Regions 6 and 7 are either-sex, either species except for one district on the general tag. In addition there are thousands of antlerless tags available for each species in these regions as well.

For more in depth insight, my expert analysis and hunt recommendations for the entire state of Montana consider joining Eastmans’ TagHub.

About Dan Pickar

Avatar photo

Check Also

Wicked Colorado Winter & Tag Reductions

Across much of the western portions of the Colorado Rockies, and especially the northwest corner …

Horses & Winter: Too Much For Western Wildlife?

The letter below came through my email this morning. I’ll not divulge who wrote it …


  1. Montana has the most stupid and convoluted draw process in the US. Their web site(s) suck. You have login one place, then login again with your ALS number, The way they force you to get a General Tag just to apply for a limited entry tag, then only give you 80% back if you don’t draw the LE and don’t want to hunt the General (another only in Montana stupidity rule) is pure scalping the NRs

    And after all that, if you get a tag the hunting sucks unless you use an outfitter with a private land lease and the G&F manages the harvest horribly…which is to say…they don’t

    I love hunting out west but Montana is so bad even the residents know it sucks…at least the ones that don’t own a giant ranch

    Montana is a joke

    • Agree! And they claim to have all this public land, but a ton of it is landlocked by private…and the parts that are accessible every “brown” animal flees to private ground the moment shooting starts or its the highest elevations with too much snow to access or sustain animal populations once the snow starts. Least favorite of All Western States

    • Douglas M Peters

      Please hunt some other state. We don’t want you here anyway.

  2. Bummer about Montana mule deer going bye-bye. I live in Lander and it appears the mule deer on this east aspect of the Wind River Mountains are already gone bye-bye. There’s lots of snow here now and very little “winter range” where mule deer can get out of the deep snow. I suspect there is going to be a hell of a winter kill on a pitifully small existing herd.

  3. Finally, maybe Mt Fish & Game is waking up to the fact there are a lot fewer deer in Region 7. I watched the last two years the decline. I used to see hunters of deer in a day. Now you are lucky to see 10. Cut the number of tags as well. (I am sure MT Fish & Game) won’t. They want their almighty dollar.

  4. Montanas fish and game is a joke they continue to allow thousands upon thousands of out of state hunters come to our state and decimate our deer numbers so they go home with a bunch of deer meat!! Our state has given out for several year 10,000 mule deer doe tags for region 7!! Our glorious hunting state has very harsh conditions from 100 plus degree weather to -50° below, and then on top of it allow hunting from August 15th through December 10th for mule deer and a elk shoulder season lasting until February 15th.. Montana has brought this upon themselves and will take years to recover if necessary actions are taken into place!!! Then adding all of that up Montana region 7 is a general tag that every in state hunter can get over the counter and on top of that no one is a trophy hunter so they shoot any deer that has fur, it’s a joke!! Way to go Montana fish and game you are brilliant!!!

    • Agree! All the shoulder seasons and anterless tags are because the private property owners moan and complain about property damage. But don’t let anyone hunt their land (except a few outfitter clients). And then get compensation from the state anyways. Briliiant! So any animal that wanders off the private gets harvested and that just keeps even more animals on the private. Big reason for the disease spread as well.

    • As a 50-year Montara resident, the fish and game are just dollar hungry at the expense of wildlife. Out of staters buying ranches just to hunt on has went thru the roof. My grandkids won’t get to enough what I did growing up.

    • Un believable. Snowflakes, please go to some other state to hunt. We are tired of seeing your Bud light cans on the side of the road.

  5. Had a permit for unit 652 in 2022…. The deer were almost nonexistent on the Federal Refuge…..

  6. Call Opra! Maybe she will buy you a new Sabaru so you can get to the best hunting spots.

  7. As always it is what it is. I find it very humorous just reading the comments. Instead of the blame game we need solutions, number one, everyone needs to sacrifice. It is to bad it is always about the money.

  8. well for one what needs to start happening with FWP as they need to stop issuing all the damn doe tags over east. That should’ve been done years ago. The other thing is we need to have an antler point restriction for bucks I know when I mentioned this to a biologist he simply stated they could never enforce this, it is enforced with elk why can’t they enforce it with deer and it probably wouldn’t hurt to start making people choose a unit to hunt instead of being able to hunt the whole state in general that will cut down with the amount of people in every unit especially for elk. Yes it is getting way overcrowded out there. I don’t know about non-residents. I don’t care one way or another if they come here there it’s getting to be way too many of them here though. I do believe the tags need to be cut back for a while or non-residents even if we have to pay some more money for ours

  9. This same complaining and moaning happened after the winters of 10′ and 11′ (look at the deer numbers from 11-13). Drought and bad winters happen. Get over it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.